Oh the British summer time! There is something so special about London when we finally get to enjoy some rare and well anticipated sunshine. However, escaping from the hustle and bustle of the busy capital is often a welcome change!
Enjoy experiencing something totally different for the day; away from London’s internationalised streets, discover quaint villages, typically British towns and cities set deep in history, such as Oxford. Why not ask our team to organise your private day trip?
Nicknamed the City of Dreaming Spires, the medieval city of Oxford immediately gives you that surreal almost movie-like feeling, with great arches, gothic towers, and gargoyles that peer out from the skyline. Although probably best known for being home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities, beyond the beautiful college buildings it is also a city filled with world-class museums, quirky eateries and unique sites to explore.
1. Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Inside this striking building you’ll find the University’s captivating collections of geological and zoological specimens. Even parts of the dodo, which likely died in about 1662, are just one of the remarkable specimens at this free museum. This museum also hosted one of the most famous debates about Charles Darwin’s research and his theory of evolution.
2. Botanic Gardens & Arboretum
The UK’s oldest botanic gardens, hosting over six thousand types of plants, and 130 acres of stunning woodland is the perfect escape from the busy city to recharge in nature. This beautiful setting is said to have inspired Oxford professors and authors alike, including Lewis Carroll and J.R.R. Tolkein as they created the fantastical worlds of Alice in Wonderland and The Lord of the Rings.
3. Harry Potter Tour
You’re not wrong if you think that Oxford looks a lot like Hogwarts. Not only do the grand buildings of the wizarding school echo Oxford’s Gothic and Romanesque architecture, some of the movies’ scenes were actually filmed in the University! Harry Potter fans can take a tour of the locations used in the shooting, then geek out with a quiz on the movies.
4. Afternoon Tea at The Grand Cafe
You can’t visit Oxford for any length of time without stopping for a spot of afternoon tea! The Grand Cafe is one of the oldest coffee houses in England, dating back to 1650. Options in the cafe range from simple scones with jam and clotted cream to the ‘Grand High Tea,’ which includes sandwiches, scones, petit fours, and champagne.
5. Christ Church
Christ Church is probably Oxford University’s most famous college, due to its size, wealth and of course its appearance in Harry Potter. The college dates back over 500 years to 1546 when it was founded by King Henry VIII, and has educated countless philosophers and world leaders since. If you only have time to visit one of Oxford’s colleges, Christ Church is worth it.
6. Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace is best known for being the birthplace of Winston Churchill. This huge country estate was built in the early 1700s as the residence of the Dukes of Marlborough who still live there today. You can tour the stunning grounds, sumptuous interiors, and even have afternoon tea in the Orangery. It will take you around 20 minutes to drive here from Oxford.
7. Cruise Down the River
Cruise down the River Thames in style as you admire the very same scenery that inspired Lewis Carrol’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ from your luxury boat. This is one of the very best ways to truly appreciate the peace and harmony of the beautiful English countryside surrounding Oxford. If you are an Alice fan you can also visit Alice’s Shop in the city centre for a wide variety of Wonderland themed souvenirs.
8. Shop at Bicester Village
Just a short distance from Oxford’s centre, Bicester Village takes luxury outlet shopping to the next level. Home to over 160 outlet stores, you’ll find brands such as Fendi, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and more, all within its pretty village-like complex. It is dubbed one of the world’s leading luxury shopping destinations
9. The Oxford Artisan Distillery
Focusing on gins and other spirits, The Oxford Artisan Distillery uses a variety of interesting, Oxford-inspired ingredients to develop unique flavor profiles in their products, sourcing everything within 50 miles. This unique distillery developed their Physic gin for Oxford University, using botanicals sourced from the University’s famous Botanic Garden.
10. The Pitt Rivers Museum
Oxford’s world famous Pitt Rivers Museum is definitely worth a visit when in the city. Founded in 1884 by General Augustus Pitt Rivers, soldier and archaeologist, the museum contains over six hundred thousand artifacts, two thousand of which are human remains. When you walk into the museum you will truly feel as though you have stepped into an Indiana Jones adventure, where weird and wonderful things await around every corner.
11. Oxford Castle & Prison
Step inside and do a millennium of time. On a guided tour of the castle-turned-prison, you can marvel at panoramic views of the city from The Saxon St George’s Tower, one of the oldest buildings in Oxford. Underground lies the 900-year-old crypt, the only surviving remains of St. George’s Chapel, where it is said, began the education for which Oxford is famed, and where Geoffrey of Monmouth penned the Legends of King Arthur. You can also explore the austere confines of the 18th century Debtor’s Tower and Prison D-Wing.
12. Ashmolean Museum
The oldest public museum in England, The Ashmolean Museum, was founded in 1683. Here you can explore half a million years of art and archaeology spread over five fascinating floors, with everything from Egyptian mummies to Michelangelo’s studies for the Sistine Chapel. Once you’ve finished visiting the museum’s collections, head upstairs to the rooftop restaurant for a snack, afternoon tea, or even a Sunday roast, accompanied by dramatic views of the city.